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Accents in Folk Music

GUEST,Tunesmith 03 Jun 08 - 04:50 PM
John MacKenzie 03 Jun 08 - 04:54 PM
Bert 03 Jun 08 - 04:56 PM
Sue Allan 03 Jun 08 - 05:00 PM
glueman 03 Jun 08 - 05:06 PM
Bonzo3legs 03 Jun 08 - 05:09 PM
Def Shepard 03 Jun 08 - 05:12 PM
glueman 03 Jun 08 - 05:28 PM
Tangledwood 03 Jun 08 - 05:36 PM
Def Shepard 03 Jun 08 - 05:42 PM
Rowan 03 Jun 08 - 07:12 PM
meself 03 Jun 08 - 07:44 PM
the button 03 Jun 08 - 07:59 PM
Jim Carroll 04 Jun 08 - 03:19 AM
GUEST,Volgadon 04 Jun 08 - 03:26 AM
Jim Carroll 04 Jun 08 - 03:39 AM
GUEST,VP 04 Jun 08 - 04:11 AM
GUEST,Dazbo at work 04 Jun 08 - 05:29 AM
GUEST,Volgadon 04 Jun 08 - 05:31 AM
GUEST,Suffolk Miracle 04 Jun 08 - 07:17 AM
Richard Bridge 04 Jun 08 - 07:24 AM
Grab 04 Jun 08 - 08:18 AM
Sue Allan 04 Jun 08 - 08:40 AM
Phil Edwards 04 Jun 08 - 08:51 AM
Saro 04 Jun 08 - 09:23 AM
theleveller 04 Jun 08 - 09:41 AM
glueman 04 Jun 08 - 09:50 AM
theleveller 04 Jun 08 - 10:33 AM
GUEST,Dazbo at work 04 Jun 08 - 11:10 AM
Goose Gander 04 Jun 08 - 11:26 AM
theleveller 04 Jun 08 - 11:29 AM
Sue Allan 04 Jun 08 - 11:31 AM
theleveller 04 Jun 08 - 12:09 PM
PoppaGator 04 Jun 08 - 01:00 PM
Grab 04 Jun 08 - 01:41 PM
Phil Edwards 04 Jun 08 - 01:47 PM
dick greenhaus 04 Jun 08 - 01:54 PM
melodeonboy 04 Jun 08 - 02:20 PM
Def Shepard 04 Jun 08 - 02:23 PM
Ferrara 04 Jun 08 - 03:09 PM
GUEST 04 Jun 08 - 03:19 PM
Def Shepard 04 Jun 08 - 03:22 PM
Richard Mellish 04 Jun 08 - 04:05 PM
Steve Gardham 04 Jun 08 - 06:46 PM
glueman 04 Jun 08 - 06:56 PM
Phil Edwards 04 Jun 08 - 07:08 PM
GUEST,Dave MacKenzie 04 Jun 08 - 07:48 PM
dick greenhaus 04 Jun 08 - 08:19 PM
GUEST,dazbo at work 05 Jun 08 - 03:49 AM
theleveller 05 Jun 08 - 04:24 AM
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Subject: Accents in Folk Music
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 03 Jun 08 - 04:50 PM

We've been here before, but the "Peggy Seeger Cockney Leadbelly" thread started me thinking about it again. I really believe that all great folk/blues/world singers have sung in their natural voice, and by that I mean they sing/sang in a voice that echoed their natural speaking voice. Some would argue that you can't sing the blues in a Irish - or whatever, accent. Nonsense! Indeed, if we reverse the arguement we can see how silly such a viewpoint is. For example, if Hank Williams sang Raglan Road should he adopt an Irish accent or would it be better if he used his own natural singing voice? I hope nobody thinks the former!


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 03 Jun 08 - 04:54 PM

Ever hear Rambling Jack Elliot sing 'I belong to Glasgow'?


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: Bert
Date: 03 Jun 08 - 04:56 PM

...I really believe that all great folk/blues/world singers have sung in their natural voice...

Hmmm, that of course means that Dylan isn't great.

I always try to sound like myself but with some songs, Manura Manyah, for one, it is difficult. Doesn't stop me singing it though.


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: Sue Allan
Date: 03 Jun 08 - 05:00 PM

I have problems with some dialect songs: I know and understand and can speak my local dialect, but have never habitually used it. So I feel I'm singing in a false accent, even though strictly speaking its my native one.


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: glueman
Date: 03 Jun 08 - 05:06 PM

Neil Tennant is an example here, singing in impeccable posh, gay, Newcastle. Rachel Unthank OTOH, sounds like a lady about to ask who you feckin looking at man woman at the end of each verse.


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 03 Jun 08 - 05:09 PM

Rock n Roll sounds daft in any English accent to me, we always used to sing it in a USAian accent. George Faux had an interesting accent for folk music. He could make finger rhyme with window.


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: Def Shepard
Date: 03 Jun 08 - 05:12 PM

glueman said, "Rachel Unthank OTOH, sounds like a lady about to ask who you feckin looking at man woman at the end of each verse."

as well she should :-D

Acents with me are not a good idea, I don't do them well, Except fer me Brummie accent, an' naaa I doy sound loike Ozzy Osbourne :-D


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: glueman
Date: 03 Jun 08 - 05:28 PM

DS I miss hearing Black Country from the days I worked nearby but confess to finding it the most impenetrable sound imaginable. On Saturday we're going over to my wife's family reunion so I'll have to get my yamyam-english, english-yamyam dictionary sorted.


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: Tangledwood
Date: 03 Jun 08 - 05:36 PM

A poorly executed attempt at another accent really grates on the ears and detracts from the rest of the performance. There's one problem I have though - how do you sing a song containing Scottish vocabulary without slipping into a phoney accent to match it?


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: Def Shepard
Date: 03 Jun 08 - 05:42 PM

You might find the following useful, glueman,

Songbooks for the Black Country and Birmingham


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: Rowan
Date: 03 Jun 08 - 07:12 PM

I really believe that all great folk/blues/world singers have sung in their natural voice, and by that I mean they sing/sang in a voice that echoed their natural speaking voice.

Leaving aside any notion that I might aggrandise myself as "great", Tunesmith's proposition has some exceptions, while being generally correct.

Most people speak, most of the time, in a voice that doesn't require much in the way of projection unless they're speaking to a large audience or issuing instructions over distance or ambient noise (to use several examples in my experience); conversational levels don't often require projection. Where projection is required (such as in the examples listed, or when singing, the character (and thus accent) of most voices may change and sometimes the change may be extensive, without the speaker/singer being aware of it. Singing teachers teach, among other things, how to control such changes to produce desired effects.

Another exception to Tunesmith's proposition, in my experience, is where the singer acquires their songs aurally rather than by 'reading'. Using my own experience as an example, I started acquiring songs literally "at my mother's knee" and many of them were sung by family and friends who, even in Oz, had regional accents that were subtly different. I sang the songs with the accents I heard them sung in. This got to the stage where, a quarter of a century later, I was singing some song from Durham to a group of friends in the folk scene in Melbourne; after I'd sung it one came up to me and asked if I'd spent time there as I'd sung it with (to them) a completely authentic accent. Well, I still haven't been to Durham nor even north of Nottingham (I'd heard the song on a mate's LP I suspect) and I thought I was singing it in my normal voice.

Most of you from north of the equator would certainly pick my accent as Oz and never think my "Durham" accent had any resemblance of validity/authenticity but I was just singing what I'd heard. Even now, that's how I learn tunes on the leather ferret, although my fingers certainly don't replicates them with the same felicity as my vocal chords, probably because my vocal chords had had a head start.

And, to add another layer of difference between the "natural" spoken voice and its singing counterpart, I was gobsmacked at how "Oz" my accent was, the first time I heard a tape of it. This was when I worked at the Melbourne distributors of National (now Panasonic), who "did" tape decks and we played around with one; it was my speaking voice but the tape heard an accent that was vastly different from what my ears were hearing; these days (now that I'm used to hearing recordings with my voice cluttering up the sonics) I "think" my singing voice has a similar accent (much of the time) to my speaking voice but there are still differences I can discern. Probably, they are there for the reasons I've suggested.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: meself
Date: 03 Jun 08 - 07:44 PM

This has proven a contentious subject on this forum, for the reason that those who have made a habit if not a career of affecting accents, or AN accent, seem to feel - understandably - under attack when the practice is criticized. So it's one of those subjects that cannot be discussed calmly and amicably for very long ...


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: the button
Date: 03 Jun 08 - 07:59 PM

One of the things that always strikes me about listening to certain traditional singers (Fred Jordan & Walter Pardon especially) is that they have less of an "accent" when they sing compared with when they speak. But then they don't have to prove their authenticity by "singing in an accent," do they?


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 03:19 AM

"Ever hear Rambling Jack Elliot sing 'I belong to Glasgow'?"
Or The Red Army Choir singing 'It's a Long Way To Tipperary'?
'Walter Pardon especially'
Towards the end of his life we played Walter an early recording of himself singing on a radio programme. His response was "didn't I sing broad in them days; you can hardly understand me!"
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: GUEST,Volgadon
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 03:26 AM

I have a CD of the Red Army Choir singing Tipperary! They had released an album of soldier songs from the world over.


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 03:39 AM

Volgadon;
Lovely sound
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: GUEST,VP
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 04:11 AM

"It's a Long Way To Tickle Mary"


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: GUEST,Dazbo at work
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 05:29 AM

I'll admit up front I'm no singer and even worse at doing accents. To me, as I've grown up, I've come to dislike singers singing in affected accents more and more. Much of English pop seems to be sung in a psuedo US accent and it's always a pleasure to hear pop sung in an English voice.

Folk is the same, I'd rather someone sing in their own accent (unless they've totally mastered mimicing the "foriegn" accent) and where necessary translate a dialect phrase or word. For example I love Bonny at Morn but when I sing it (for my own pleasure well away from anyone else) using a word like kye is, and sounds, ridiculous in my Middle Saxon accent.


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: GUEST,Volgadon
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 05:31 AM

That seems to be Martin Carthy's philosophy.


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: GUEST,Suffolk Miracle
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 07:17 AM

"There's one problem I have though - how do you sing a song containing Scottish vocabulary without slipping into a phoney accent to match it?"

A very important and sensible question.
1) If there is just an odd Lallans word in the song – sing it without an assumed accent and don't worry.
2) If there are a few such, see if you can replace all/most of them with standard English equivalents. If so sing it without an assumed accent and don't worry.
3) If there is a one off reason for singing it (the writer died the day before, or your Scottish grandmother has come to watch you and desperately wants you to sing it) fine – apologise, explain and do it with cod accent if you need it. Once.
4) Otherwise DON'T SING IT. Is that harsh of me? It's just that there are many many thousands of folk songs out there, most of which do not require an assumed accent, and which would be perfectly good alternatives. Why do people have to insist on their right to sing exactly what they want to sing, irrespective of whether by any objective standards it is a good idea?
I see exactly the same thing happening with the 'ownership' of songs. At one time (and I don't just mean in Traditional Land; it was the case in most folk clubs until comparatively recently) if a singer in a particular area was known to sing a specific song, noone else would sing it when that person was there. In many cases not even when they were absent. God forgive me, I can remember in the seventies waiting anxiously for a certain person to carry out his promise to move to another area so I could lay claim to 'Harry Was A Bolshie'. Nowadays I've had people ask me for the words of a song (which as always I have willingly given) and within a few weeks they've been singing it there in front of me.


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 07:24 AM

So long as the English accent in question is not Lily Allen (or similar). I dislike it about as much as I dislike the sound of Kate Bush.

I do think it is manners not to sing a song that soeone else does if they are there unless they have expressly or impliedly given permission. The Young Coppers were there at the Pigs Ear folk ale last weekend and no way was I going to do any Copper songs with them aroun or even impending.


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: Grab
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 08:18 AM

One problem with the "regular" English accent is that it mostly consists of short vowel sounds. This reaches positively ludicrous levels in Lancashire (where I'm from), where people literally don't finish pronouncing the ends of words or sentences - it just kind of tails off about 90% of the way through. This is a tendency which took me quite a while to fix when I started singing lessons!

The problem is though that if you simply elongate your vowels, your accent becomes very "upper clarsse", because that's the major characteristic of the upper-class accent. This might be fine for classical, but it doesn't work for rock or pop, nor folk either. So I think that's a major factor for why British people often end up with a slight American accent when they sing - the vowels are slightly shifted in a way which allows for a more natural-feeling delivery, but this has the effect of changing the accent. Singing "laave" for "love" is a perfect example of this.

It might also be worth noting that it's thought the American accent historically *was* the British accent. But the Americans kept the same accent (and words like "catercorner"), whilst the native British-English speakers changed how they spoke and lost some words from their vocabulary.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: Sue Allan
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 08:40 AM

Interestingly, the singers onthe Pass the Jug Round album (recorded in 1954 near Carlisle) all speak very strong dialect when they introduce their songs, but moderate this to more standard English when they sing.


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 08:51 AM

This might be fine for classical, but it doesn't work for rock or pop, nor folk either. So I think that's a major factor for why British people often end up with a slight American accent when they sing

I never, ever, ever sing with a slight American accent, ever. Not ever. Sometimes when I learn a song from a record I find I've picked up a bit of the accent it was sung in (Paddy McAloon's faint Irish is good, or bad, for this) and I have to school myself to sing in my own voice. But American? Never. (And I have sung bits of Dylan, although that's something of a special case - an off-the-peg 'mid-Atlantic' accent wouldn't sound anything like him, but if you did try and sound him it would sound either spooky* or ridiculous.)

Dunno about the elongated vowels - my sense is that a lot of the long notes in traditional songs have long vowels to go with them ("the trees they do grow hiiiigh and the leaves they do grow greeeen"). It is an oral tradition, after all - the songs wouldn't have come down to us in the shape they're in if they were unsingable, or unsingable without sounding posh or American.

*I did once hear a young bloke doing Dylan numbers who sounded *exactly* like the man himself, right down to the picking style - and it was a bit spooky. Wonder if he's made a career out of it.


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: Saro
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 09:23 AM

This is an issue which Craig Morgan Robson think about a lot, as we consist of a Scot, a Northumbrian and a Southerner (albeit with some Yorkshire roots, but they are buried a bit deep!) who sing together in harmony.   We are very keen on singing songs from each of our "home" regions, which potentially poses a problem of accent. I would never attempt to sing a song from the North East as a solo, but when Carolyn leads a song in which she uses her native accent, I know that I adapt to match her vowel sounds as closely as I can, as to me that is part of creating the blend of sound that we want to make. We have tried singing songs (as an example at a workshop) where we each maintain our "original" accents and we now find it almost impossible, as we so used to tuning in to each other.

However, this doesn't feel so much like "changing my accent" as "matching the sound of my fellow singer".   I don't think I could cope with "putting on" a different accent for singing regional songs as a soloist, and I have to confess I find it a bit grating when I hear it from others. I don't count those who are have two accents - the one they were brought up with and the one they had to learn for school or work - I think they are just lucky to be "bi-accentual" if there is such a term!
Saro


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: theleveller
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 09:41 AM

"I have problems with some dialect songs: I know and understand and can speak my local dialect, but have never habitually used it"

I tend to agree with Sue. When I sing East Riding songs, including those I've written, I tend to use an East Riding accent, as it is used today. The traditional accent, especially from oop in t' Wooalds, is so strong as to be unfathomable to most people nowadays. In fact, my grandfather (who spoke it) used to tell me that, before the war, some Danes came to East Yorkshire and could understand and communicate with the locals because the vocabulary was so similar.

Incidentally, has anyone noticed that John Jones of Oysterband, although he doesn't speak with one, sings with a pronounced lisp (or should that be pronounced lithp?).


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: glueman
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 09:50 AM

"before the war, some Danes came to East Yorkshire and could understand and communicate with the locals because the vocabulary was so similar."

This may be a folk tale spread by ostention. I've heard the same said of Northumbrian dialect and that Newcastle and Norwegian fisherman could understand one another's, and also of Norfolk. I fear it belongs with the tale that the first place the wind from the Urals hits is The Wolds (Yorks or Lincs), Belvoir Castle, Marjory Hill, etc.


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: theleveller
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 10:33 AM

You could be right, Glueman, although it's been quite well documented – actually, it was Danish soldiers during the first world war. Unfortunately, my grandfather died many years ago so I can't ask him if he had personal experience of this, although I have it in my mind that he was. The Old English and Old Norse roots are very similar.

I was always told that is was the wind blowing from the urinals! (And Driffield is supposed to be the coldest place in England).


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: GUEST,Dazbo at work
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 11:10 AM

Glueman's story isn't so far fetched. I went interrailing round Europe and camping in various camps sites there were whole sentences spoken that I understood perfectly - and they weren't speaking English.

I was always told that going due east from the top of Harrow On The Hill the next highest land you got to was the Ural Mountains (IIRC HotH is about 250Ft and due east is mainly the North German Plain which I believe to be flat and lower than 250fty).


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: Goose Gander
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 11:26 AM

"One of the things that always strikes me about listening to certain traditional singers (Fred Jordan & Walter Pardon especially) is that they have less of an "accent" when they sing compared with when they speak."

Listening to the interviews with Harry Cox on 'What Will Become of England?' (Rounder 1839), his Norfolk accent is (to me) nearly incomprehensible, but I have little or no trouble understanding his singing.


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: theleveller
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 11:29 AM

Those, like me, of an anally-retentive disposition may find this is of interest.

www.genuki.org/big/eng/YKS/Misc/Books/FolkTalk/Chapter7.html

The rest may prefer to talk amongst yourselves.


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: Sue Allan
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 11:31 AM

hi leveller, link just seems to go to a site 'under construction' ...
(damn - I've just admitted I'm also of the AR disposition!)


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: theleveller
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 12:09 PM

Hmmm... not sure what's happening there. If you Google Yorkshire Folk Talk - Danish Comparisons you should get there.


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: PoppaGator
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 01:00 PM

I've been reluctant to chime in, because I've expressed my (unpopular) views on this topic many times before.

Also, this seems to be a controversy pursued much more passionately on one side of the Atlantic than the other, and I live on the side where we're not too worried about this.

Perhaps one reason is that folks in the UK are so very conscious of the many different accents that still survive in different geographical areas (and in different social classes, too), while in the US, we are much further along the road to homogenization. We still have regional accents, to a degree, but they're dying out as our people become ever so much more mobile, and as a nationwide media market exerts an ever-increasing degree of influence upon us.

All that said, let me posit what I believe to be fairly universally true: The song and the musical form (or "genre") has a whole lot to do with determining a singer's pronunciation of lyrics.

Now, there's a big difference between a tasteful and sympathetic approach to a song's native and built-in "accent," on the one hand, and a slavish and ill-informed attempt at imitation of persons of a linguistic subculture different from one's own.

For example, there are any number of excellent blues/R&B singers who are white Americans and white Britons, and what they are doing is far removed from the blackface/minstrel-show entertainment of an earlier generation. Any halfway decent interpreter of the blues will sing in his/her "own voice," but at the same time will employ a set of standard, traditonal vocal sounds that should not be considered imitations of Black American speech, but rather as integral sonic features of a musical tradition.

Let me offer an example from outside the world of music and song to demonstrate that an element of "accent" can be built into a given bit of lyric, so that it can only be uttered using its own "native" vowel and cononant sounds. Find a copy of the collected works of John Milllington Synge, or of any one of his plays ~ "Playboy of the Western World," or any of the one-acts.

Read that material out loud ~ it's impossible not to employ a bit of an Irish accent or "brogue." Much of this effect is undoubtedly due to the rhythms and lilt of the poetry; word-order within sentences must be part of it, too. I don't claim to understand exactly why it is that a composition of words on a page can dictate the manner in which they are pronounced aloud, but it certainly seems to work that way, whether or not we understand why.

Now, the way that you or I read Synge aloud may not exactly match the true accent of any particular region or subculture in Ireland (although Synge is probably forcing us to speak more-or-less like the residents of his beloved Aran Islands). But we are going to adopt certain dipthong sounds and certain rhythms that are common to all the various regional accents of Ireland.

If any of us were to portray one of these characters on stage, we'd be expected to speak in a manner that is NOT precisely our own native accent, but not blatant overstated "stage Oyrish," either. Any halfway decent actor, even an amateur, will find a way to use his own voice, certainly, but to add a layer of interpretation in the form of pronunciations that differ from his everyday offstage speech.

I would argue that the same goes for performance of songs, not all songs certainly, but many songs that are identified with a particular culture or that are typical of a given style. I would tell anyone wondering whether or not to sing a particular song, or how to pronounce its lyrics, just to trust your instincts ~ and also, if there's any doubt, to "try it out" with a limited audience of trusted friends and advisors before going more widely public.

If you have grave doubts that you can perform a given number adequately, you may be right ~ your own ambivalent feelings will be evident in your performance. There is always a way to sing "naturally" and "in one's own voice" on the one hand, and to use pronunciations appropriate to the song on the other. However, there's an art to this. Ask yourself if you're capable of this particular tighhtrope act; also ask yourself if you feel capable of learning. I'd say that we're all capable, but unless you start off with a bit of confidence, you won't be able to do it.


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: Grab
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 01:41 PM

Phil, I don't mean deliberately. To be honest I think the problem is that as people with English accents we need to find that compromise between how we talk and how we sing, because our speaking accents are uniquely mis-suited to singing. That compromise won't always end up with a recognisably-English accent. And as I said in my last post, some of these songs might have been written back when we *were* speaking like Americans. :-)

Lest people misinterpret how I wrote my earlier post, that would be "lah-ah-ahve" for "love". A long-vowel "lahve" for "love" is what Brits would see as a classic example of an American accent. A shorter harder "lav" for "love" is a classic estuary-English accent. Northerners would say something more like "loov" with a short vowel. Neither is well-suited for singing. And singing "lo-o-ove" perfectly on the vowel puts you squarely into the "I-want-to-sing-like-Noel-Coward-let's-all-go-to-elocution-lessons-old-bean" ballpark. More commonly with less-good singers, on longer notes the vowel sound changes as the singer moves through the note. This usually sounds horrible, with some strangled sound like "loh-ah-arve". An alternative to all this of course is the more nasal traditional-folk delivery which often results in something more like "loi-i-ive" - and now we're heading towards an Irish accent.

The letter "i" is another similar problem, in that it's virtually impossible to sing a long "i" without becoming nasal, and most people don't like that kind of sound unless you're consciously aiming for a trad-folk delivery (which again is different from anyone's spoken accent). So "smile" might become "smahle" - again, we're into American vowels again. Phil, to take part of your example, "hiiiigh" is almost universally sung "hah-ah-igh" - American again.

As several people have said earlier, singers usually lose much of their regional accent when they sing. I think it's simply because you *can't* usually sing in those accents! (I'd submit three Geordie nominations of Jimmy Nail, Chris Rea and Mark Knopfler, all of whom are broad Geordie when speaking but not at all when singing.) Where English singers *do* stick with their speaking accent in singing, I think it's very often as part of an act which consciously trades on their regional (or ethnic) background, like Cockney music-hall songs.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 01:47 PM

Dunno, PG. If the actors in your 'stage Irish' aren't being coached for authenticity, it's highly likely that they'll end up with slightly different Irish accents. I don't know much about accents, but I always notice that kind of thing ("oh, is he not from round here, then?"). As for singers, I always want to ask singers with fake American accents which part of the US they think they're from. I'm a great believer in making the song your own - which means not putting on any of the stereotypical 'folk voices', as far as possible, as well as not doing foreign accents.


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 01:54 PM

Whatever works.


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: melodeonboy
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 02:20 PM

"singers usually lose much of their regional accent when they sing. I think it's simply because you *can't* usually sing in those accents!"

Blimey! I don't think the Coppers had/have much trouble singing in their own accent. I don't either. I doubt if anyone else did up to the age of mass communications. I find the idea that someone has to adopt a foreign accent in order to sing quite bizarre.

What next? Dolly Parton singing with a Geordie accent? Jamaican reggae stars singing in HIghland Scots? Or perhaps Vin Garbutt with a Texan accent? The mind boggles!


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: Def Shepard
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 02:23 PM

melodeonboy said, "What next? Dolly Parton singing with a Geordie accent? Jamaican reggae stars singing in HIghland Scots? Or perhaps Vin Garbutt with a Texan accent? The mind boggles! "

You'll be giving a certain VERY pro-English patriot a heart attack, don't know about anything else :-D


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: Ferrara
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 03:09 PM

I sang the songs with the accents I heard them sung in. - Rowan. On the Helen Hartness Flanders collected recordings, singers from New England sang songs with Irish and other accents, corresponding to the accents of the singers they learned them from. I.E., It's a natural thing to do when a song is learned aurally.

GUEST, VP - in my dad's WWI Army songbook the title is, "That's the Wrong Way to Tickle Mary."

Some people can't help picking up accents. I'm one of those. I spent 6 weeks with friends in England, came back to the U.S. with one of them, and was asked, "and what part of England are you from?" And in Munich, people asked whether I grew up there. I.e., I was unconsciously speaking German with a Munich accent. And in Naples, people I met said, "We can tell you're Neapolitan." Etc. It just happens.

The hardest thing for me is to sing an English ballad with standard American pronunciation. I prefer American ballads, because I don't have to work so hard to say "get" when my mind is trying to say "git" thanks to my mom's Georgia accent which I still haven't got rid of....


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 03:19 PM

"Northerners would say something more like "loov""

You talkin' ter me, luv?


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: Def Shepard
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 03:22 PM

In Birmingham (UK) that would be

Yaouw talkin' ter me, love? :-D


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 04:05 PM

If I want to sing a Scots song and can manage to render it into standard English, well and good. If I can't, I'll sing it in Scots: inevitably not a totally authentic accent from any particular part of Scotland, but a generalised lowland accent learnt from listening to many singers and from having "stayed" just outside Edinburgh for some 18 months in my younger days. This is not ideal, but I consider it preferable to losing many of the rhymes.

Something that I dislike in certain singers (who shall be nameless) is singing a Scots song in an English accent except for an occasional "doon", "toon", "frae" and the like. I see no sense in mixing Scots pronunciations of a few words with English pronunciations of everything else. Either sing in Scots or sing in English, not a mixture.

Richard


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 06:46 PM

As a folk song collector coming from a family of traditional singers one of my biggest frustrations is my mother who normally speaks with a straight local accent but when I record her singing she automatically adopts her 'telephone voice'. It just does not work!


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: glueman
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 06:56 PM

A minefield. It's impossible to imagine singing 'the wee lass on the the brae' without a hint of Scots inflection. Substituting the words for standard English would just be surreal. That way lies madness.


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: Phil Edwards
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 07:08 PM

I think 'Suffolk Miracle' had it about right - naturalise it if you can, and if you can't then sing something else. I did once do horrible things to Twa Corbies, although in my defence

a) I only did it because I wanted to pair it with Three Ravens (is Twa Corbies an 'answer ballad'?)
b) I asked if there were any Scots in, and apologised to them in advance.

It's a challenge - and fun - to get inside the skin of a song in a different version of English (or a close relation of English, depending how you see Scots): those birds aren't crows and they're not cawbies either, they're corbies with an R, and they're not "making moan", they're quite definitely makkin' mane... But I think the temptation should be resisted - it's not so much a foreign language as somebody else's language, and in the case of Scots or Irish English that somebody might well be in the audience.


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: GUEST,Dave MacKenzie
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 07:48 PM

As a Scottish blues singer, I wish I knew what accent I speak and sing in. I grew up in Edinburgh, with a father from Wester Ross, and cousins farming in Angus, so that by the time I was eight I was aware of my accent changing with the circumstances. Most of the music on the radio was from the Robert Wilson/Kenneth MacKellar school of singing, and in Church we sang in an attempt at an accentless style for the most part. When Rock 'n Roll came along I sang what I heard, and probably picked up and American singing accent - my first wife told me that was what I had apart from heavily rolled Rs. Since then I've lived in Tyneside, Surrey, then Wigan for a short time.

Signed

Confused of Chester.

PS I've caught myself speaking German with a slight Cologne accent!


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 04 Jun 08 - 08:19 PM

As I reflect upon singers who have adopted accents, I keep recalling the likes of Peggy Seeger, Buell Kazee, Rambling Jack Elliot, Dave Van Ronk, Jean Redpath, Stanley Holloway, Utah Phillipps and a horde of other who are (I guess) not good. Also Dylan, but I won't get into arguments about him.


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: GUEST,dazbo at work
Date: 05 Jun 08 - 03:49 AM

Theleveller,

Just tried to google Google Yorkshire Folk Talk - Danish Comparisons and this thread was the second item that came up. Not obvious which site it should be at first glance - must get to look like I'm working before the boss gets in.


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Subject: RE: Accents in Folk Music
From: theleveller
Date: 05 Jun 08 - 04:24 AM

Hi Dazbo. When I googled it as 'pages from the UK' it was the first that came up. Hmmmmm...that's google for you. Yup, back to work!


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